Emma's cover image
Emma

Emma Searle

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: New South Wales Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
To study culturally competent ways of engaging pregnant Indigenous women with identified child protection issues within an urban hospital environment - New Zealand, USA, Canada
Download

Statistically it is evident that within urban environments in Australia Aboriginal families are overrepresented with regards to families with child protection involvement and non-Aboriginal professionals are overrepresented with regards to the clinicians who make the decisions about the health, care and protection needs of Aboriginal families. This is a challenging reality which when combined with historical factors such as the forced removal of children by government agencies, can have a significant impact on the way Aboriginal women and families engage with maternal and infant health services. I therefore embarked on my Churchill Fellowship to discover how non-Indigenous practitioners in countries with a similar history of European occupation address these complex imbalances particularly in the context of working with Aboriginal women that may be reluctant to engage with health and welfare services due to the presence of child protection issues.


Highlights of my Churchill Fellowship included the opportunity to speak directly to compassionate, informed practitioners working ‘on the ground’ with vulnerable Indigenous women & families, seeing how programs operate when they have little or no government support, the opportunity to have honest conversations with Indigenous practitioners about the past and their vision for the future and observing services which holistically respond to urban pregnant Indigenous women’s needs, whether it was through addressing transgenerational trauma via strengthening ties with traditional culture or providing practical assistance in response to a woman’s most urgent priorities.


I learnt that to effectively engage pregnant Indigenous women with child protection issues urban health services must be able to holistically take into account a woman’s cultural, psychological and practical needs and do so in a way that recognises both her existing strengths and possible history of past trauma. My fellowship also provided new insights into what enables Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff to have difficult conversations with Indigenous women about identified risk of harm issues and what enhances working collaboratively with other agencies to respond risk of harm. I identified many differences and similarities with the current Australian healthcare context regarding the challenges of providing culturally competent care within a risk averse clinical environment where staff are predominantly non-Indigenous and a key highlight was witnessing bi-cultural practice in action in New Zealand.


 I plan to disseminate the invaluable knowledge gained from my Fellowship at a state and federal level through Aboriginal Maternal & Infant Health networks and relevant Perinatal Mental Health conferences, and at a local level through Royal Hospital for Women staff education forums, inter agency forums and hospital Social Work professional development sessions. I also plan to expand on specific aspects of my Fellowship for publication in relevant journals.

Related fellows
Rosie Downing, Rosie
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2013
Dianne Greathead, Dianne
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2013
Doug Shelton, Doug
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2013
Catina Adams, Catina
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2014
Hazel Brittain, Hazel
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2014
Shekeeb Mohammad, Shekeeb
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2014
Melanie Jansen, Melanie
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2016
Isabel BAKER, Isabel
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2009
June COUNCILLOR, June
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2009
Peter Cursley, Peter
Health And Medicine > Obstetrics And Paediatrics
2017